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What's the big deal about cables?

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Mark Holtz, Dec 28, 2002.

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  1. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz Day Sleeper DBSTalk Club

    Mar 23, 2002
    Sacramento, CA
    I'm sure some of the more electronically inclined may be able to clarify some details for me, but...

    What's makes Monster Cable so much better than the cables that I pick up from Radio Shack? I have an old article from Forbes that much of the markup is in profit margins.

    And, what's the deal with the "gold-plated" plugs verses the tin-plating? They may be dissimilar materials, but we're talking about a connection with a large surface area, not a pin-point connection like a memory stick in a computer. Yet, if I want a 3 foot cable (for better organization), they are only available as gold-plated cables. The shortest non-gold-plated cable is 6 feet long.

    And, what difference does the material in the cable make? Granted, copper has more resistance than say silver or gold, but again, for short cable runs, what does the difference make?

    Finally, how come I can't find any hard data on differences between cable? I expect some measurements saying that "actual resistance was 6 ohms, compared with similar cables." But, what I see is more anecdotal evidence along the lines of "I switches from Brand X to the more expensive Brand Y, and man, it looked and sounded better." Quite frankly, I don't trust anyone's ears as a judgment of quality.

    Sorry to vent like this, but Tony's post kinda pushed my pet peeve. I was at Fry's for a component video cable primarily so that the cable was color coded. I think the monster cable was $49-59 for a six foot length. Somewhat hidden (it took me five minutes of searching) got me a RCA component video cable for $12.95. Why color coded? So that I can plug and unplug the DVD player from the main TV.
  2. MarkA

    MarkA God Bless America! DBSTalk Gold Club

    Mar 23, 2002
    MONSTER (yes, the brand is all caps) cables are junk. Gold plated cables look prettier:) Copper cables are fine. There is never an application where silver cables are of value, except in times when copper costs more than silver. The only applications for which silver would have a clear advantage, the run is so long as to make it totally cost prohibitive. Cables, ideally WON'T AFFECT LOOKs AND SOUND. People hear what they want to. Bad cables will add noise or distort the signal. But "special" cables like silver aren't some kind of magic filter. If you want good component cables - just use 3 RG6 runs. And avoid MONSTER. People just don't get it - MONSTER isn't just overpriced, they're actually not very good cables!
  3. Bogy

    Bogy Hall Of Fame

    Mar 23, 2002
    Something like 25 years ago I read an article in one of the audiophile magazines dealing with this issue. The specific question with which they were dealing (as I remember it) was how the gage of the cable would affect audio quality. What they found, judging by all the tests they could come up with, was that the benefits of using larger gage cable topped out at 16 gage. They found that using the "Monster" type cable offered no actual benefits. Audiophiles with "golden ears" who were chosen to do listening tests were able to discern a difference if they knew which cable was being used. However, in blind tests they were unable to tell a difference between 16 gage cable and the larger (and more expensive) alternatives. Personally, I don't think technology in the intervening decades has really improved dramatically on what you could use in 1975. I use good cables, but I have never wasted the money on the monstrosity cables.
  4. TNGTony

    TNGTony Hall Of Fame

    Mar 23, 2002
    I've been using 16 guage lamp cord now for 25 years. I've tried using other cables to see if I could hear the difference. I could hear a VERY slight difference (worse) in low end with 18. I've never heard any improvement in sound quality with bigger cable.

    As to AV cable. Monster Cable is not really any better than any other good quality cable at 1/2 to 1/3 the price.

    See ya
  5. raj2001

    raj2001 Icon/Supporter

    Nov 2, 2002
    The professionals (TV/radio/recording studios, cable/satellite companies, broadcast facilities, telco's, large datacenters, ISP's) do NOT use monster cable. This should tell you something.
  6. Mike123abc

    Mike123abc Hall Of Fame/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

    Jul 19, 2002
    The only difference between cables that I have ever really seen is the quality of the end connectors. Poorly made ones tend to oxidize or fall off.

    In the digital world if the signal is good enough for error correction it will make no difference how much better it is.
  7. gcutler

    gcutler Hall Of Fame

    Mar 23, 2002
    When using Dixie Cup and string connection, do the Flowered Dixie cups design work any better than the plain dixie cup design? :p
  8. Richard King

    Richard King Hall Of Fame

    Mar 25, 2002
    When I used to wire recording studios, the speaker wire we used was West Penn 225 or 226 (specs here: http://www.westpenn-cdt.com/newpdfs/cc2.pdf ) This is a generic 16 or 14 ga. twisted pair cable and was typical in most studios around the country. When doing signal level, for balanced in fixed in place rack signals, we generally used West Penn 291 (http://www.westpenn-cdt.com/newpdfs/cc13.pdf) For unbalanced equipment in rack and between racks we used a Tascam low capacitance coaxial audio cable.
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